The bigger picture
The needs on our doorstep
Poverty in close-up
Homelessness in Northern Ireland
I was hungry
Welcoming the stranger
Just do something!
Suggestions for action
On Our Doorstep Early in 2011, I invited a group of people living and working in the Diocese of Down & Dromore to form a ‘Poverty Think Tank.’ Their brief was to explore the issue of poverty within the diocesan boundaries and report their findings back to me. May I thank each of them for their time and thoughtful approach to this task. As the group members met together, prayed together, worked together and listened to each other, the contents of the following pages began to emerge. I commend their report to you, which is actually ‘our report’ because so many contributed to it through the website questionnaire. It is a report to be lived out rather than just read; to be acted on rather than filed. My prayer is that it would engage our hearts and our hands in sensing the heartbeat of the Father, and living out the example of Jesus.
June 2011 The Right Revd Harold Miller Bishop of Down & Dromore
They asked only one thing, that we remember the poor, which was actually what I was eager to do. Galatians 2:10
Introduction The day that Jesus stood up and read Isaiah 61 in the temple of his home town of Nazareth, the scripture was fulfilled (Luke 4: 17-21). Jesus’ whole life would be about the least and the lost; preaching good news to the poor, proclaiming freedom for the prisoners, recovery of sight for the blind and releasing the oppressed. Later, the early church added to this the care of widows and orphans. They were a community of practical love and care. In essence it was their very reason for being. It was the way of Christ. So today in the modern church, which seeks to serve and follow Jesus, it should be in the DNA of every congregation, as well as every Christian, to do something; to find at least one meaningful way to help, not only those overseas, but those around us. Sometimes, although we have eyes, we do not see the enormous social issues on our doorstep. This is true of the most respectable places, suburban and rural and not just an inner city phenomenon. Hugh Sherlock’s words in the hymn, ‘Lord Thy church on earth is seeking,’ are at the heart of Christ’s Mission:
‘In the streets of every city where the bruised and lonely dwell Let us show the Saviour’s pity, let us of His glory tell.’
May God’s Holy Spirit move us to care and make a difference in our parish and beyond. Let us share the gospel in practical ways, remembering the words in James 2, that faith without works is dead. One random act of love can change a person’s life - a call, a letter, a visit, a drop-in, a gift - the list is endless. Just do something for the honour and glory of God.
The Bishop’s Poverty Think Tank: Canon David McClay Revd Nigel Kirkpatrick Gail Redmond Carol O’ Bryan Margaret McNulty
Suzie Marcus Revd Alan Wardlow Revd David Somerville Revd Jeremy Mould Claire Holmes
The Bigger Picture
It is widely acknowledged that we are entering a completely new era of poverty and deprivation in the UK. Northern Ireland faces particular problems with the gradual disappearance of heavy industry, the proposed shrinkage of the public sector and a reduction in the block grant from Westminster.The following snapshots combine to present a disturbing picture of poverty in the province.
‘Many people suffer from a budget deficit and as a result they sink into a bigger hole each month. There are a lot of myths around why people get into debt in terms of overspending but this is not always the case. In most cases it is an income shock, maybe people have lost their job through redundancy or have had a marital breakdown.’
‘Department of Social Development Official’s believe that around 50 per cent of households in Northern Ireland are now in fuel poverty. The rate of fuel poverty in Northern Ireland is almost three times that of England and more than a third more than that of Scotland and Wales.’ The Consumer Council for Northern Ireland4
Una Farrell Consumer Credit Counselling Service (CCCS) 30 March 20101 HOME REPOSSESSION
‘Northern Ireland is expected to experience the worst rate of repossessions in the UK…’
‘More unemployed people reported substantially reducing the amount of money spent on food in the past to allow the payment of other household expenses.’
16 February 20112 Food Poverty in Rural Northern Ireland Factbook 20065
‘Children in Northern Ireland still face many problems — poverty, neglect and abuse, inequality and inadequate services. 25% of children live in poverty, 45,000 live in severe poverty and almost 1 in 5 live in persistent poverty.’3
‘Farmers in Northern Ireland are in a similar position to others in England, a quarter of whom live below the poverty line, it has been claimed.’ News Letter 30 November 20105
1 www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-12903839 2 www.mortgagefinancegazette.com/article/Repossessions-will-dip-then-rise-this-year-230770.html
www.savethechildren.org.uk/en/docs/Severe_Child_Poverty_-_NI_Briefing_Jan_2010.pdf www.consumercouncil.org.uk/energy/fuel-poverty/ 5 www.publichealth.ie/files/file/Food%20poverty%20in%20rural%20Northern%20Ireland%20IPH%20_fin_%20Dec%2006.pdf 3 4
Northern Ireland is one of the UK’s ‘debt hotspots’ ISOLATION ‘53% of older people in Northern Ireland say that television is their main source of company and 1 in 4 people aged 65 and over spend more than 15 hours alone each day.’ Jenny Bristow with Age Concern launch the Great Sunday Lunch 20086 ASYLUM SUPPORT ‘Almost 50 per cent had been unable to afford enough food to feed themselves and their dependants in the past week. … 50 per cent had experienced hunger as a result of the low levels of support.’ Refugee Action 20107 MIGRANT DESTITUTION ‘Women are being forced to choose between extreme poverty and remaining in potentially deadly relationships. The Commission has also encountered a number of people forced to sleep rough on the streets of Northern Ireland having being denied access to temporary accommodation.’ The NI Human Rights Commission evidence to the UK Border Agency, 10 March 20098
6 www.culturenorthernireland.org/article.aspx?art_id=1492&cmd=print 7 www.refugee-action.org/documents/Asylumsupport_Refugee%20ActionFeb2010.pdf 8 www.nihrc.org/dms/data/NIHRC/attachments/dd/files/106/Submission_of_evidence_to_UKBA_regarding_the_Worker_Registration_Scheme.pdf
The Needs On Our Doorstep Through their shared experience and the results of the poverty survey, the members of the Poverty Think Tank have identified the following needs within the diocesan boundaries: Rural Poverty Rural poverty is often expressed differently. It tends to be silent and can go unnoticed. The ‘3 Fs’ - fuels, fertilizers and fields - are all up in price and as many farmers meet difficult financial times some fail to cope. The two main problems faced are difficulty in asking for help and knowing where to find it. Some farmers could be claiming as little as a quarter of their benefit entitlement but where churches have helped promote a ‘simple benefits check’ many more people are accessing what is available to them. Urban Poverty Urban poverty is a huge issue and has many different expressions - illiteracy, lack of personal hygiene, lack of parenting skills, food poverty and lack of basic amenities such as heat and light. Ways of addressing these problems include homework clubs, parenting classes, and having a community space. This becomes a place where parents can go to, especially as they begin to form relationships. Child Poverty This is often manifested in neglect such as children coming to school without having eaten breakfast, having poor hygiene and a lack of clean clothes. There is often a lack of family support and a high number of children have behavioural problems. Schools in different parts of the diocese would confirm that child poverty is a real issue as would Social Services. Poverty as a result of having children with Special Educational Needs There are many challenges facing people with SEN and their families. These challenges can be alleviated through such things as clubs, family support, respite care and the teaching of life skills. The poverty of isolation It is not unusual for families or individuals become isolated from those around them due to their circumstances or through belonging to a minority group eg. the travelling community. Low self-esteem, loneliness, self loathing, and hopelessness can be real issues for this group. Poverty and deprivation amongst immigrants and foreign nationals New arrivals from other countries have no entitlement to benefits unless they are working here and may find themselves without any means of support. If not entitled to state support, foreign nationals are often turned away from hostels that are supported by public funds. Anyone sleeping rough is vulnerable to the temptations of crime and substance abuse and in danger due to hunger, depression, disease, hypothermia and physical attack. People die on the streets each year. Foreign nationals on the streets are also especially vulnerable to racist abuse.
Poverty in close-up Gail Redmond is the Founder of Via Wings, a project based in Dromore Parish which serves the vulnerable of the town. It comprises the ‘House of Hope’ and ‘Dare 2 Care’ - an initiative which distributes groceries and other resources to those in crisis.The House of Hope is a home from home and a resource centre; a place to chat, deal with issues in confidence, develop contacts and receive help to get back into education or employment.
A CASE STUDY We have a young family who started coming to the House of Hope just over a year ago. At first we thought the young mum just needed more self confidence, however, having spent a little more time with her and her two young children, other issues came to light. Her little boy is 6 with a Statement of Special Educational Needs and her daughter is 4 years old and a bit of a handful. There is no dad in this family and the extended family offer very limited support. The reality of her situation dawned when a couple of volunteers gave the family a lift home one very rainy day. House of Hope had given the young mum some toys and upon arrival at the family ‘house’ and I purposely say ‘house’, the volunteers struggled to find space to set the toys down. The place had not been cleaned or tidied for well over a year.
“The biggest part of this has been...the time we have spent with the young mum.”
Your first thoughts are probably of laziness but we looked a little deeper. The young mother was so depressed that she could not bring herself to do basic housekeeping jobs. The children had no one to show them how to tidy up and the house was in such a state that the young mum could not see the wood for the trees with the mess and financial restrictions.
Can you imagine ever living like this? Can you picture your child having to climb over clothes and broken toys and furniture to get to their bed at night? Could you bear to cook a meal in a kitchen full of bacteria and germs? What if you didn’t know any better? What if you were never shown? What if you couldn’t see the point? Via Wings was able to step in with some practical help. Two volunteers went to the home once a week for many weeks until the house was back into some order; we encouraged the young mum to keep on top of things; we made phone calls to get the relevant help and a DIY ‘to do list’ was made and began in April. We will not leave the project until the house is a safe and comfortable ‘home’.
The biggest part of this has been, not the work we have done, but the time we have spent with the young mum. I can assure you that this has meant more than anything and through our mentoring project I’m glad to say we will be able to continue walking alongside her.
Homelessness in NI THE EXTENT OF THE PROBLEM
Common personal triggers are:
The Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE) collects statistics on those who apply to it for assistance under the homelessness legislation. However, the true figure of homelessness is difficult to ascertain as individuals or households experiencing homelessness may not approach the NIHE.
Eviction from owned or rented home
Householders no longer willing / able to share their home
Rural homelessness in particular may be hidden, with the result that, without information about levels of homelessness, agencies can experience difficulties in demonstrating the need for services or the nature of the services required.
Leaving the parental home in a crisis
Deterioration in mental health or increase in alcohol or drug misuse
The NIHE statistics refer to ‘presenters’ and ‘full duty applicants’. The category ‘presenters’ includes all applicants for whom NIHE conduct a homelessness assessment. Full duty applicant (FDA) applies to those presenters who are assessed as meeting the four statutory homelessness criteria. Reasons For Homelessness The reasons for homelessness exist on two levels: a. Risk factors which can lead to homelessness b. Personal triggers which can lead to homelessness Risk factors are categorised under four headings: 1. Structural ie. shortage of affordable housing, low income and poverty. 2. Institutional eg. having been in care or in the armed forces. 3. Family background eg. experience of family homelessness in childhood, family breakdown and disputes, sexual or physical abuse in childhood or adolescence, having parents with drug or alcohol problems. 4. Individual eg. using drink or drugs at an early stage, getting involved with crime at an early stage, lack of qualifications, persistent truancy or exclusion from school, lack of social support networks. Risk factors may co-exist, eg. children who have spent time in care may be more likely to have no educational qualifications and therefore to be unemployed and at greater risk of homelessness.
Homelessness is one of the most extreme manifestations of poverty and social exclusion. The personal triggers which can lead to homelessness and the impact of being homeless are often intertwined. As a result, homelessness usually co-exists with other forms of poverty. An analysis of the types of poverty set out in the survey conducted by the Poverty Think Tank indicates that homeless can co-exist with all types of poverty. Furthermore at times, other forms of poverty can be both a cause and consequence of homelessness eg. health, employment status, educational attainment.
Chief Executive, Simon Community NI Further information: NORTHERN IRELAND HOUSING EXECUTIVE 03448 920 900 (8.30am to 5.00pm) NIHE HOMELESS ADVICE CENTRE 028 90 317 000 www.nihe.gov.uk COUNCIL FOR HOMELESS NORTHERN IRELAND www.chni.org.uk 028 90 246 440 firstname.lastname@example.org SIMON COMMUNITY NORTHERN IRELAND Simon Community NI is available for presentations. Please contact: Lisa Hamilton Sturdy Communications Manager 028 90 232 882 email@example.com www.simoncommunity.org. The Simon Community NI free phone advice line is 0800 171 2222
I was hungry... thinking biblically When we think of poverty, often we think of far off lands and refugee camps or shanty towns. We think of hungry people who have little or no shelter and who live in unsanitary conditions. We may even think of minority groups, such as the Roma, oppressed by the majority population, denied access to the labour market, living in grinding poverty. We berate the rich and powerful of such countries for not doing anything to help their poor, and worse, being prejudiced against them or actively oppressing them. Less often do we think about poverty on our own doorstep. Perhaps we can scarcely believe the forms of poverty in our society as outlined in this report. Maybe we even have a low opinion of those who are homeless, those on benefits, or those who have come here from a different country and find themselves destitute. We might even contend that because of our welfare system, there can be no one destitute and if they are experiencing poverty, then it is their own fault. • • • • •
We might say that the single mother only got pregnant so that she could take advantage of the welfare system. We might say that if the homeless person didn’t drink or take drugs… We might say if only that unemployed person got themselves down to the job centre and found themselves a job… We might say that those people got themselves into debt because of their own carelessness. We might say that those who have come here from another country should simply go back home and be someone else’s responsibility.
It would be easy to salve our consciences with all these and more excuses for doing nothing – the more fortunate in other countries do the same thing - but we will not escape the reality that there is poverty in our society and that people suffer because of it. We are called to help the poor, not judge them or blame them for being poor. How can we judge someone in unfortunate circumstances unless we have walked a while in their shoes? If we are so right in our judgements, then why did our Lord Jesus Christ call the poor blessed? (Luke 6) Throughout the Gospels, our Lord Jesus Christ consistently reaches out to the least attractive,
“showing love to our neighbour demonstrates the reality of God in our lives”
most despised, poorest people around, while he consistently chastises, offends and challenges the wealthy, righteous and powerful. As the Magnificat announced: “He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty....” (Luke 1)
A characteristic of the Kingdom of God, as laid out in the Gospels, is that it often turns around or reverses human expectations. We know it is God’s Kingdom when it doesn’t look the way we think it should. We in our world live by the creed that everyone should get exactly what they deserve, yet so many of the Gospel stories violate this creed. Workers who labour for one hour get the same as those who worked all day (Matthew 20). A prodigal son is welcomed home with a big party while the faithful elder son is taken for granted (Luke 15). Poor and homeless people are promised the Kingdom of God (Luke 6) while the rich, who worked hard and contributed to the economy are sent away empty. The people we expect to win Jesus’ praise are criticised, while the people we hope Jesus will condemn are welcomed, healed, and fed. No wonder our Lord Jesus Christ was accused of being immoral and blasphemous! The stories of the Gospel are meant to shake us out of our apathy and lethargy, to see the Kingdom of God as it really is – a Kingdom where everyone is loved by God regardless of status; a Kingdom where no one is in need because everyone shares the gifts of God and cares for their neighbour; a Kingdom where everyone is given the same opportunity to grow and develop as a child of God. Our Lord Jesus Christ doesn’t abandon or reject the
powerful, successful and wealthy. On the contrary, he seeks them out like he seeks everyone else, and offers them salvation. The stories of the rich young ruler (Luke 18) the wealthy tax collector, Zaccheus (Luke 19) and even the prodigal son (Luke 15) show our Lord Jesus Christ teaching, among other things, the need to repent of the materialism and self-centredness which can obstruct the life of faith and hinder entry into God’s Kingdom. We need to be unburdened of our materialism in order to fit through the narrow entrance of the Kingdom of God. Anything which stands between us and the authentic life of faith must be jettisoned, so that our vision is clear and without distraction. This is the Kingdom of God and is offered to all God’s children freely and without hesitation to live out in our lives and to strive for in this world. It is a Kingdom into which we are baptised and enabled and empowered to live out through the Holy Spirit of God, who blesses us with the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity and faithfulness (Galatians 5). When we consider the poor in the midst of us, let us ask ourselves if our response is a reflection of these fruits. Are we imitating Christ in our thoughts and actions? Do they show that the living Christ dwells in us and that we are blessed by the Father? Let us not be under the illusion that we can earn our way into the Kingdom of God by doing good works. However, showing love to our neighbour demonstrates the reality of God in our lives (James 2).
Child Poverty When we hear the term ‘child poverty’, often our minds jump to the faces of starving children in developing countries. We rarely consider the 100,000 children in Northern Ireland living in officially defined levels of poverty. Our thoughts do not turn to the 44,000 children living in severe poverty in NI today - children whose families do not have enough money to adequately feed them, heat their homes or replace their clothes when necessary.
Average weekly spend
£13 a day – the reality of living in poverty
Children living in poverty often live in homes suffering from multiple deprivations and as a result the children can be disadvantaged in a number of ways. Local schools report that the poorest children in our communities are most at risk of the following:
Many families living on a low income have only about £13 per day per person.9 This has to cover all of their day to day expenditure, including necessities such as food and transport and all household bills such as electricity, gas and water, telephone and the TV licence. It also needs to cover occasional items such as new shoes and clothes, school trips and activities for children, and replacing broken household items.
Did you know that a family with two adults and two children needs to have £352 each week in order to be above the poverty line? How does that compare to what your family has?
stand up for the poor, help the children of the needy 9 Source: Barnardos
10 Source: Barnardos
The total weekly expenditure for an average couple with children in 2010 was £673 per week for all households, that’s equivalent to £176 per person. However, a family with an income in the lowest 20 per cent spent just £360 each week, equivalent to £90 per person.10 That’s almost half what the average family spends....and that is if they have £90.
• • • • • • • • • •
Poor literacy skills Educational underachievement Lack of support from home for learning Special Educational Needs Social, emotional and behavioural difficulties Poor attendance at school Neglect, often represented in the form of a poor diet, malnourishment, lack of sleep, poor hygiene, lack of weather-appropriate clothing etc No access to books or educational games/ resources at home Lack of experience of the wider world, such as family outings Low aspirations for their future
As Christians we cannot simply accept that so many of the most vulnerable in our society are living in severe circumstances which steal their childhood and significantly impact on their chances for the future. Christ does not ask us to simply pass this responsibility onto the welfare system and expect distant and impersonal government bodies to respond to the problems through financial and legislative solutions. He commands us to get involved in the lives of families in our community who struggle with issues of poverty, to offer them hope and show them his love in practical ways. No amount of government legislation or financial support could ever offer this.
The following are a few simple suggestions of ways in which we in the church can provide practical ways of showing Jesus’ love to the children and families living in poverty in our communities: • Get involved in your local schools – make your presence known so that pupils, families and teachers know you are a source of support. • Set up a homework club in your church or assist with one already running in a local school. • Encourage retired members of your congregation to offer their time to help out in classrooms – helping with additional reading, after-schools clubs, play or art activities. • Consider running classes to support parents in positive parenting. • Support young or single parents by demonstrating how to read with, play with and talk to their children (perhaps through Parent and Toddlers’ or similar groups). • Create genuine friendships with local parents, particularly lone parents, in order to support them in bringing up their children. • Support parents attending meetings with teachers, health professionals, social services, and so on, to help them to attend regularly and consistently and recognise the value in accessing available support. • Offer financial support to parents struggling to provide uniforms, money for school trips or books/educational resources for their children. • Pray for your local schools, teachers and principals – consider asking them how best to pray.
Primary school teacher Further Reading The Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister Child Poverty Strategy 11
Welcoming The Stranger
Social Poverty and Isolation
Material Poverty and Destitution
For some people the early days of living in a new country are a nightmare of isolation and it is especially difficult if their English language is poor.Your welcome could transform this poverty of isolation.
Most newcomers come here and live successful lives, earn enough to live comfortably, contribute to society and integrate well. A few are less fortunate.
What Could You Do? •
Find out who is in your area, if they are experiencing any difficulties and if there are gaps in provision.
EMBRACE NI highlights some of these more vulnerable groups as being:
A8 NATIONALS: Since May 2011, people from the 8 additional countries that joined the European Union in 2004 have been treated like people from the longstanding EU member Consider how your existing programmes could states. They have much the same entitlements as local involve newcomers. people, once they pass a ‘habitual residence’ test.
Could you set up English language classes, a friendship club, drop in centre or parent and toddler group?
However, being in work is the easiest way to pass the preliminary ‘right to reside’ hurdle and so jobless people may still be ineligible for support unless they have already worked here for some time previously.
Might your buildings be a good venue for advice sessions run by experts? ROMANIAN AND BULGARIAN (A2) NATIONALS: • Consider accompanying an immigrant as they They can get permits as skilled workers or work here seek help. on a self-employed basis but they cannot apply for jobs in the normal job market and most are excluded from Resources welfare entitlements. Hard Gospel materials including a welcome poster and course materials are still available to download http:// ireland.anglican.org/archive/hardgospel/index.php?id=11 EMBRACE NI is an inter-church group devoted to helping Christian people build a more welcoming society and it receives some financial support from most of the main Churches (including the Down & Dromore diocese). Its website includes lots of information. See www.embraceni.org/category/about-us/embrace-resources EMBRACE runs workshops to help churches find ways of engaging with migrant people. The group is currently working on ‘a toolkit’ containing advice based on the practical experience of congregations and groups. See www.embraceni.org Telephone 0796 992 1328 or E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
PEOPLE FROM OUTSIDE THE EUROPEAN ECONOMIC AREA: People recruited here for skilled work enter on work permits. Their passports are stamped “No recourse to public funds.” They only have full access to benefits after 5 years, when they can apply for citizenship. PEOPLE IN THE ASYLUM SYSTEM: Most people seeking sanctuary here are offered accommodation and some financial support while their case is being heard, though they may experience destitution until their support begins. There can also be difficulties during their claim. Failed asylum applicants can also end up destitute if they cannot safely be returned home immediately. There are also those who end up in difficulties for other reasons eg. job loss or relationship breakdown and domestic violence where they have had to leave the household. In some cases they lose financial support if they are not working themselves. Some may even lose
I was a stranger and you made me welcome their right to stay here. Irregular migrants (they may have come here legally and a change in circumstances has led to them losing their right to stay) are very vulnerable. Some emergency support can be made available for vulnerable people, but the situation is largely unchanged. Concerned NGOs are lobbying politicians to provide emergency support for destitute migrant people who have no welfare provision. What Could You Do? • EMBRACE on the Street enables a rota of churches to provide practical support for needy foreign nationals through donations of clothes, toiletries etc. If your parish would like to contribute contact Ashleigh on 028 90686933 for more information.
charities where there is no other source of money. See www.embraceni.org/category/about-us/projects/
• Christian charities such as St Vincent de Paul, Salvation Army and local homelessness charities help foreign nationals, so consider supporting them through donations. • EMBRACE can advise on what to do when encountering people from other countries in crisis situations. www.embraceni.org/category/christian-response/advice-forchurches/ • As a local person, accompany an immigrant as they seek help.
Information Officer, Embrace NI
• The EMBRACE Emergency Fund assists through other
Just Do Something! So how can our churches engage with the poor in their area? Where do we start?
new skills. Fortunately there are many organizations out there to help.
As a Think Tank we felt that parishes needed to grasp the concept as captured in two phrases; “Just do something” and “On our doorstep.”
In the months ahead, different types of poverty and people caught in the cycle of poverty may increase and parishes need to discover what’s going on in their area. Social workers, doctors, teachers and others are often well positioned to provide this information. 13
Both of these phrases had come up at different times, and struck us as important. We can do something, even one little thing. It doesn’t have to be big and it doesn’t have to involve lots of money. There are ways we can address poverty without spending anything eg. helping someone learn English, and this can begin in local parishes. Speaking in an article about their Storehouse Initiative, the words of Alan Carson of City Vineyard Church make challenging reading:
‘We’re comfortable with sending aid to Africa, but while people here in Belfast may not be dying of poverty some of them are certainly not living.’12 Most of us recognise the importance of demonstrating the gospel in practical ways, of living it out and of helping others without asking questions. Sometimes, however, we don’t see the needs on our doorstep. A good starting point is to get people talking about poverty to raise awareness and help them see that they can respond in some way. We may need to challenge their attitudes. Also of vital importance is an understanding of what the Bible says on the subject. The church cares about the poor because of God’s heart for the poor, exemplified in the life of Jesus, and we are called to follow him. As we highlight the importance of tackling poverty, we will need to become better informed and perhaps acquire
12 www.eauk.org/media/feeding-the-poor-in-belfast.cfm 13 See
appendix 1 for helpful websites
We encourage you to make a point of asking. JUST DO SOMETHING!
Our Recommendations 1.
That every parish should decide to do something 6. practical to address poverty in their local area. That every parish – led by its rector and Select Vestry – would undertake some sort of research • to identify what poverty exists in its community • and how they can be part of addressing the issues. • That rectors consider preaching on poverty and • related issues or facilitate a special study of some • biblical material relating to money, poverty etc. during Lent or Advent.
That every parish would choose to look beyond stereotyping or prejudices about people in poverty.
That every parish would invite someone to speak about how Christians can respond to poverty in their community eg. a CAP speaker one Sunday, or someone from another parish to share about their initiatives to combat poverty.
That the diocese would make resources available to parishes to help each to respond. This might be called a “toolkit” with advice including: Useful website addresses Contact details for the CAP debt counselling centres in the diocese Suggestions on resource materials for courses, Bible studies or sermons Suggestions for guest speakers Information on projects already running in the diocese
Suggestions For Action •
Simple Benefits Check
Christians Against Poverty Centre or the CAP Money Course 14
Freezer ministry (ready prepared frozen meals which can be used as you see need)
Visitors groups for the elderly
Lunches for the elderly
Provision and distribution of furniture for immigrants or people in need
Help with cleaning for those in need
Mentoring / befriending of young people, individuals, and families
Buddy programme eg. building a relationship with a single mum
Help for those caught up in alcohol and drug abuse
Support for those who self-harm
Help with CVs and job seeking
Teaching English to those entering the country and their children
Identifying those with other languages to support non-English speakers by eg. accompanying them to the doctor
Members of the Poverty Think Tank are willing to advise parishes in the diocese as appropriate. 15
are currently 3 CAP Centres in the diocese: Belfast Central (Willowfield), Bangor (Primacy) and Lurgan (Magheralin & Dollingstown and Shankill) 15 See appendix 5 for contact details
1. 2. 3. 4. 5.
Useful websites Setting up a foodbank with The Trussell Trust A theological reflection on homelessness A summary of the Poverty Survey results Email addresses for Poverty Think Tank members
Useful Websites A general overview of Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK www.poverty.org More detailed and specific information by ward www.ninis.nisra.gov.uk Health and social care information www.n-i.nhs.uk Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety www.dhsspsni.gov.uk Citizenâ€™s Advice www.citizensadvice.co.uk Christians Against Poverty www.capuk.org Credit Union www.abcul.org Information on local charities www.charitycommissionni.org.uk Help to audit your community and help your church respond more effectively www.creedireland.com Some charities that would know the state of poverty in any particular area www.svp-ni.org www.simoncommunity.org www.barnardos.org.uk
Setting up a Foodbank
with The Trussell Trust VISION
Foodbanks show Jesus’ love in action by giving food to people in crisis in the local area, providing short term emergency relief. Church based foodbanks engage the whole community in providing food to local people going hungry.
HOW IT WORKS 1. Front-line professionals (social services/health care) give vouchers for the Trussell Trust Foodbank(s) to families they meet who are in crisis and need food for 3 days. 2. Local Christians run local foodbanks that distribute emergency supplies of food (non-perishable) to last a family 3 days.
Storage can be in any viable place, from a garage or a room in a church hall to a warehouse. Distribution is through the foodbank. Front-line professionals identify those in need who then come to collect the food box.
COST There is an annual Franchise Fee of £225. £1500 for initial PR packs, publicity and admin material. The Trussel Trust assists in all the set-up procedures, provides a Food Bank Manual, personal training and publicity.
BENEFITS OF THE FRANCHISE CREDIBILITY
3. The Foodbank can be a stand- alone shop or part of another complex (ie. a room in a community centre/café).
The Trussell Trust has credibility in the wider community. The social and health services trust and understand how it operates and are very keen to cooperate.
4. It’s a personal service with a warm welcome and the opportunity to refer people to other agencies eg. CAP.
Volunteers can be anyone who wants to help but the foodbank manager should always be a Christian member of a local church. The project is managed by a hand-picked small group representing different churches in the area.
COLLECTION, STORAGE AND DISTRIBUTION
The main supermarkets likewise know about it and are also keen to cooperate. CONFIDENCE Professional annual audit and ongoing support and training. www.trusselltrust.org
Volunteers hand out leaflets to the general public as they enter the supermarket and collect the items bought. Also members of churches bring non-perishable food to church on Sunday for collection.
A theological reflection on homelessness
Matthew 25 Matthew 25 seems to indicate that there is a judgement solely for those who are on the inside, those who have access to shelter, clothes, and food and water. And the evidence that will be weighed to make that judgment is not their fidelity to church service, their denominational affiliation or their worship preferences, but the evidence of how these people on the inside treated those who were outside. “For inasmuch as you did it to the least of these you did it to me”, says Jesus. How we use the privilege of our insider status – our resources, our dreams and aspirations, our shelter – to serve those who are outside, who have none of these things - should be the allconsuming question for the church. Hebrews 13 In Hebrews 13 we have the summary statement of the gospel we proclaim:
“the church is the only community which chooses to be outside for the sake of those who are outside through no choice of their own.”
“The high priest carries the blood of animals into the Most Holy Place as a sin offering, but the bodies are burned outside the camp. And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood. Let us, then, go to him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore. For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come.”
Here is one accustomed to the outside whose life and death were shaped by his outsider status. Rejected, despised, exiled from his home town, no place to lay his head. Ultimately, he was crucified outside the civilised and respectable place. And he in turn calls us to go to the outside; to leave the place of privilege, power and influence; to take the risk of stepping outside the bounds of respectability and there to risk something. But we will find that Jesus is already there, among the outcast and the refugee, with the homeless person and the prisoner. For the church is the only community which chooses to be outside for the sake of those who are outside through no choice of their own. Love the Stranger: Hospitality In Hebrews 13:2 we read, ‘Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.’
Christian love should never be confined to the brothers and sisters of the family. It must extend to the stranger. Love the Christian family, but don’t forget the stranger, the outsider, for in so doing we double their exclusion. It is why also the writer of Hebrews earlier in 10:35 encourages his readers not to give up meeting together,
and in particular to celebrate communion or Eucharist or breaking bread. It is why this act is central to our faith. By means of simple bread and wine we are invited to come to the Lordâ€™s table to share the food he provides, but then we are sent from that table to perform that same act in practice in our neighbourhoods. Communion is an act of hospitality which we are required to re-perform in the streets around us.
from their home and bringing them near; by stepping outside the walls we have built round ourselves and our families and our churches; going outside to where the crucified are; we find that Jesus is already there before us, crucified along with them and for them. And in acting as he did, we meet him in them.
SIMON COMMUNITY NI
And we welcome the stranger in the confident expectation that they will be a gift of God to us. In acting like Jesus; reaching out to those who have been exiled
Poverty Survey Results • • • • • •
The survey was open online for 47 days from 18th February - 6th April 2011 120 respondents began the survey of whom 35% completed every question Gender split: 63% male and 37% female Age of respondents: 40% aged 45-60, 21% 31-45, 18% 19-30 and 18% 61-75 In geographical terms the diocese as a whole was represented 52% of parishes responding were in the greater Belfast area
TYPES OF POVERTY Select the types of poverty you are aware of in your parish area
Loneliness Debt Homelessness Education / Literacy Food / Heat Migrants / Refugees Unemployment Life Skills Low Pay / Working Poor Health / Disability All other responses 0
* ‘All Other Responses,’ represents ‘Child poverty’ and ‘Other’.
INITATIVES ALREADY RUNNING IN PARISHES • • • • • • • • • •
Christians Against Poverty (CAP) Centres and CAP Money Courses helping those in debt Visiting the elderly, housebound and lonely Foodstore and freezer ministries Supply of bedding and clothing English classes Homework clubs for children Help and advice with benefits, writing CVs and interview skills Detached night work on the streets Rector’s/parish emergency or discretionary funds Meals /outreach groups for men/the elderly/migrants/parents & toddlers
HINDRANCES TO PARISHES Select the pratical, emotional, physical and spiritual blocks that hinder your parish in tackling issues of poverty in your setting
Lack of finance Lack of awareness or denial Apathy or indifference Lack of appropriate biblical teaching on poverty Fear An individualist, pious spirituality Judgemental or prejudiced attitude toward Unwillingness of the church to share resources Lack of resources Lack of bridges into the community All other responses 0
* ‘All Other Responses,’ represents ‘Preconceived ideas about who is poor’.
COURSES AND RESOURCES IN USE IN THE DIOCESE CAP resources and speakers, ‘Just People’ (Tearfund), CAP Money, Prospects, Care for the Family, Alpha, New Wine resources, Parenting Courses, George Newell, Richard Waller, (both Church Army). ORGANISATIONS WITH WHICH PARISHES ARE ALREADY ENGAGED Social Services, Health Board,Youth Initiatives, Christians Against Poverty, District Council, Besom,Youth for Christ, Storehouse, East Belfast Mission, Scripture Union, Church Army, Tearfund, East Belfast Community Development Organisations, WPCA, The Oasis, CREED. AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT Select the areas of poverty where little or nothing is being done by anyone to alleviate the problem in your area
Loneliness Debt Homelessness Education / Literacy Food / Heat Migrants / Refugees Unemployment Life Skills Low Pay / Working Poor Health / Disability All other responses 0
* ‘All Other Responses,’ represents ‘Child poverty’ and ‘Other’.
of poverty think-tank members Name
Revd Canon David McClay Revd Nigel Kirkpatrick Revd David Somerville Revd Alan Wardlow Gail Redmond Margaret McNulty Suzie Marcus Revd Jeremy Mould Claire Holmes Carol O’Bryan
URBAN POVERTY / CAP THEOLOGY / BISHOP’S APPEAL RURAL POVERTY METHODIST CHURCH FAMILY POVERTY / ISOLATION MIGRANT POPULATION CHILD POVERTY FOODBANK TRAVELLING COMMUNITY HOMELESSNESS
email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org
Church of Ireland House 61-67 Donegall Street Belfast BT1 2QH Tel: 028 9082 8850 Fax: 028 9032 1635 www.downandromore.org
They asked only one thing, that we remember the poor, which was actually what I was eager to do. Galatians 2:10